DES MOINES, Iowa - Creighton Coach Greg McDermott walked to center court alone during an early, second-half timeout. His Blue Jays were celebrating a 28-point lead against Big Ten Iowa and he was soaking up cheers from the the crowd.
McDermott, an Iowa native, understands how big the Hawkeyes are in the state.He appreciated stomping a team he grew up watching play in the NCAA Tournament about every season.
Thing is, this wasn't that Iowa program. It was a rebuilding unit still digging out from the rubble created by the previous two coaching regimes.
Creighton rudely rolled over an overwhelmed Hawkeye team, 82-59, here on Sunday. The mid-major Blue Jays dominated their Big Ten opponent for just about the whole afternoon in every possible phase.
Iowa entered the contest with a 3-0 mark. That start against inferior talent at home masked major deficiencies.
The Blue Jays looked like an NCAA Tournament squad. Perhaps that was because Iowa looked like a team in the second-year of a gigantic rebuilding project.
The Hawkeyes go back to the drawing board after being slapped with a large dose of reality. This thing is a complete overall, folks.
Granted, Creighton doesn't have a football team. It's all about Blue Jay B-Ball. Their fans are tremendous.
The Creighton faithful, including a well-organized, raucous student-section showed that the Hawkeye fans have a way to go as well. It might have been a bigger blowout than what happened to their team on the Wells Fargo Arena court.
The Iowa followers deserve a bit of a break.They're still suffering frm years of frustration. They're going to have to be nursed back to health like their team.
Fran McCaffery undertook a massive reconstruction job climbing aboard a sinking from his predecessor, Todd Lickliter. The Iowa head coach was his usual fiery self on Sunday, but he didn't lose his mind.He realized it was far from a finish product.
Iowa suffers from deficiencies at two crucial spots - backup point guard and center. No offense to Devyn Marble, but he's a work in progress as a reserve No. 1. Devon Archie is a part-timer starting at the five.
Melshan Basabe, arguably the best player on the team last year as a freshman, hasn't gotten his feet under him this year. The New York native finished with a disappointing three points and four fouls on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes also lacked energy, which allowed Creighton to crush them on the backboards, 43-27. That was a bad combination with the Blue Jays shooting 9 of 19 from behind the arc.
"Just coming out like we did, soft, not intense; they outworked us," said Iowa freshman Josh Oglesby, who paced his team with 14 points off of the bench. "They were the more aggressive basketball team today."
Iowa played poor defense on Sunday, to say the least. The Hawkeyes allowed Creighton to shoot 55.2 percent from the floor and could not find an answer for sophomore Doug McDermott, who scored a game-high 25 points.
While it was easy to talk about the step up in competition from the first three games to facing the Blue Jays, it never looked like Iowa was prepared for the reality.
"I think a little bit (it was tough to see the deficiencies)," said Iowa senior Matt Gatens, who scored 13 in the game. "But I think we knew defensively we weren't where we needed to be. That definitely showed against a high-quality opponent."
Sunday was not the end of the world for the Iowa basketball team. Maybe it was what this young team needed to work harder. The film was filled with areas that needed improvement.
"We could have beaten Creighton," Iowa's Devyn Marble said. "We just did everything wrong. We missed shots. We didn't play well enough in defense. That's our fault."
Iowa returns home for two homes games this week with Campbell and IUPUI. It will be much of what the Hawkeyes saw in the first three contests this year. This time they need to focus on their shortcomings.
"We should beat those teams by 50 points," Basabe said. "We're a Big Ten team and they're at a lower level. This team we played today was good. But with respect to Creighton, we're going to see a higher level in the Big Ten. We need to get a lot better."
It's a marathon, not a sprint, when you're trying to pull yourself out of irrelevancy.